Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cash-strapped Cuba pursues oil-drilling pacts

Cash-strapped Cuba pursues oil-drilling pacts
Mayabeque province known as epicenter of energy search
Author: Andrea Torres, Reporter,
Published On: Oct 30 2015 09:35:01 AM EDT Updated On: Oct 30 2015
09:56:49 AM EDT

With Venezuela in crisis and a drought that is raising food imports,
Cuban officials are facing a liquidity shortage. Despite the low oil
prices, they continue to be open to foreign investment for crude

There is hope in an area west of the of Boca de Jaruco, officials said
earlier this year. The former fishing village is at the mouth of the Rio
de Jaruco, in the province of Mayabeque, where there is both oil and gas
exploration ventures.

State oil companies, Cuba's Union Cuba Petroleo (CUPET) and Russia's
Zarubezhnetf, drilled there in the 1980s and were reportedly working
there to recover oil wells. Canada's Sherrit International is also
active nearby at a gas processing plant. For years, the activity in the
area has concerned Cuban oceanologists.

"Spills that are far from the coast, under normal conditions, could
result in pollution in Florida ... spills on land could contaminate the
Florida Keys and during hurricane conditions increase the risk of
pollution increases to 92 percent," scientists Alina Gutierrez and
Amaury Alvarez said in a study published in Cuba last year.


The state's oil company is divided into 41 other companies. Five of
these are joint ventures with foreign companies such as China, Russia,
Venezuela, Canada and Australia.

Their voices are not dissuading CUPET. After U.S. reported high crude
oil inventories, oil prices continued to fall late October. Venezuelan
crude fell to less than $45 per barrel. Cuba refines and resells some of
it for cash.

Venezuela is part of Cuba's new Gulf of Mexico drilling campaign with
Angola's Sonangol.

"We will initiate a drilling campaign at the end of 2016 or the start of
2017," Osvaldo Lopez, Cupet's head of exploration, told Reuters late

Experts concluded that the prospects of offshore drilling explorations
in Cuba were low after failed joint ventures with Brazil's Petrobas and
Spain's Repsol, News Maritime reported in October.

Tourism is up 17 percent this year, but Cuba still doesn't have enough
cash to take advantage of the new purchasing opportunities in the U.S.
Near one of the most popular tourism destinations, Varadero, Cuba found
oil in 1971.

Follow reporter Andrea Torres on Twitter @MiamiCrime

Source: Cash-strapped Cuba pursues oil-drilling pacts | News - Home -

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